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Curious Way of Getting Rid 
of A Cowardly Captain. 

French Girls 

Late 1st. Lieutenant Co. A 5tk Mich. Cavalry 

With Compliments of 

Machinists' and Manufactniers' 
1 14 and 1 16 N. Clinton St., Chicago 


Late First Lieutenant Company A. 5th Michigan Cavalry 
Born Septcmhcr 15th, 1836 


The Fifth Michigan Cavalry was camped near Stevens= 
burg, Va., as we had about ten miles of the Rapidan River 
to guard. One morning, Lieutenant Colonel Gould's or- 
derly came to my tent and told me that Col. Gould wanted 
to see me. I went up to his tent, and he told me he was 

going to send Captain — with his company down 

to Jacob's Ford and ordered me to take twenty-five of 
my men and go down with him. I protested all I could, 
but no use. I took a trusted Sergeant with me, as 1 had 
to leave the Orderly Sergeant in charge of the rest of the 
company and ordered him to be sure to take Corporal 
—— • — and his squad. 

We arrived at the Ford in a big rain storm. On our 
side of the Ford was high and dry ground, but the captain 
said that he v/ould not camp there, for we would be in 
plain sight of the Rebs and they would come across and 
gobble us all up before we could get out of the way. He 

went about one mile north and ran into the middle of a 
large swamp. I rode up to him and protested that it was 
inhuman to make the men and the horses stand in six 
inches of water and mud. His answer was that the rebs 
could not get at us before we could get out of their way 
in this swamp. 

I was about sick with the cold and wet. My men had 
placed two sacks of oats end to end and put a shelter 
tent over them, and I had just crawled in and covered up 
with my blankets, when the captain came to me and ordered 
me to detail a corporal and six of my men as a guard at 

You may well bet that I was mad from head to foot and 
I ripped out some pretty hard things about having guards 
at his tent when there were so many on the river and 
one at each end of the camp in the road. But no use — ■ 
he was bound to have one at his tent. I sent for a 
corporal, who could think of more deviltry in a minute than 
I could think of in a day. He started out to do some tall 
swearing, but I stopped him, telling him that I had done 
some strong talking and all he had to do was to obey orders. 
He took his squad and went to the captain's tent, and in 
about a half hour he came to me and said that the captain 
had taken ofif his boots and put them where he could reach 

them and he was going to take them to two men of our 
company who had bad cases of Mrginia CoHc. 

In about a half hour a gun was fired off about ten rods 
north of the camp and I knew some deviltry was going on 
as there was only one gun fired. Almost immediately the 
captain hollered out at the top of his voice, 

'Turn out the guard, the Rebs are coming!" at the same 
time reaching for his boots, and in pulling them on he got 
well spattered with the colic and smelt like ten polecats. 
In a short time he came to where I lay and hollered out : 

*'Do you see what your men have done to me ?'' I be- 
lieve you put them up to it and when we get back to camp 
I shall prefer charges against you. I answered : 

"Captain, you had better keep as still about this as you can 
for if the officers and men get wind of this they will 
laugh you out of camp." 

When we got back to camp, I heard nothing of charges 
against me, or the corporal, but the captain could not help 
seeing that every time several of the men got together they 
were laughing very hard about something. 

In a short time he resigned and went where Rebel shells 
and bullets did not ZIP by. 


I don't blame them< Iti many cases our boys were 
badly wolinded and woilld not have lived had not many of 
these French girls gone into the hospitals, many times 
tinder a heavy shelUfire from the German gtlns. These 
girls stood by our boys through thick and thin until they 
were returned to health ; our boys would have been un- 
worthy the name of American and if under guch circum^ 
stances he did not fall in love with her and marry her he 
would be a bigger brute than I hope any man wearing 
the uniform of an American soldier would be, 

I can sympathize with these boys and girls from actual 
experience, I was very badly wounded the 2nd day of 
March, 1864. I was taken to Army Headquarters in Rich- 
mond about noon on Friday the 4th. James A. Sedden, the 
Rebel Secretary of War, ordered a drum-head court martial 
on me immediately, which sentenced me to be hung that 
afternoon. Mrs. Jefiferson Davis saved me that day. James 
A. Sudden, the Secretary of War, declared he would have 
me hung on Sunday and sent for his wife, daughter, about 
19, and son, about 16, to identify me as the officer who 
ordered the men into their house to break up their furni- 

They came into Libby Prison Hospital just as the Reb 
surgeon and a Yank prisoner had finished soaking off my 
clothing to get at my wound for the first time. I was in a 
perfect state of collapse. Mrs. Sedden came right up to me 
and doubled up her fist and struck me several times in the 
face and called me every bad name she could think of. Her 
daughter actually cried to see her mother act so and begged 
of her not to abuse me as "he is a wounded officer." Then 
Miss Sedden, pointing her finger at me, said 'That is not 
the officer that ordered the men into our house to smash 
cur furniture, but he is the officer that came up on our 
front porch with a big revolver in his hand and pointing 
at three or four men told them to get out of there or he 
would shoot them and they all got out very quick." She 
said, "1 shall tell Father and President Davis what this 
officer did for us." This was the same as to tell me ''Young 
man, I shall do everything in my power to save you from 
being hung tomorrow." 

Then they all walked out with the Reb officer that came 
in with them. It was a long afternoon and night to me ; I 
thought, "Could that frail girl stem the tide against her 
father, the Secretary of War, and others who were after 
my hfe?" 


The next morning (Sunday) about ten o'clock, the Sur- 
geon had just finished dressing my wound and gone three 
or four cots from he when a Sergeant and four men marched 
in and came direct to my cot; I thought they had come to 
take me out to hang me. In an instant the Reb Surgeon 
was at my side and asked the Sergeant, ''What are you 
doing in here?" He answered, "I have orders from Major 
Turner to take Lieut. Harris down in one of the dungeons." 
The Surgeon told him to get out, that he was in command 
there and to tell Major Turner to go to Hell. In an instant 
it flashed upon my mind that Miss Sedden had saved me 
from being hung. Don't you think that I fell in love v/ith 
her? I thought she was an angel sent down from Heaven 
to save me, and she did. 

I was in Reb prisons over nine months. When I got out, 
soon after the war was over, I went to Richmond, mostly 
to find Miss Sedden to thank her for her kindness to me 
and to help her as I felt the war had wiped out all their 
ready money, but found she had died six months before. I 
hope to meet her in Heaven where I can thank her. 

Press of Adolph Selz, Chicago